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University of La Verne president Pardis Mahdavi stepped down last week after less than a year on the job, citing “personal reasons” in an emailed announcement, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Mahdavi was president of the private California university for only 10 months. 

Her predecessor, Devorah Lieberman, was president for 12 years before retiring in July. Lieberman remained at La Verne on a one-year contract to advise Mahdavi, which made some faculty members feel that Mahdavi wasn’t “given the rein to do what she needed,” the Times reported. Paul Alvarez, the faculty senate president, told the newspaper that there was disappointment “that we let somebody who could have made some big changes get away.”

Like many colleges, La Verne has also experienced enrollment declines in recent years. The university enrolled 5,662 students in fall 2022, according to the Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. Enrollment hovered at or above 8,000 students for much of the 2010s before slumping near the end of the decade.

Mark Hicks, a member of La Verne’s Board of Trustees, has been appointed acting president. Board chair Anthony Revier announced the appointment in an email to the campus and said Hicks would remain in the acting role while the university looks for a longer term interim president.

Hicks wrote to staff that Mahdavi’s “departure likely caught many of you by surprise and, undoubtedly, raised questions regarding the future of university leadership.” He also stressed his intention to “continue to support the collaborative efforts undertaken by Dr. Mahdavi with faculty and staff leaders and to continue to ensure forward momentum in strengthening our university climate.”

La Verne has faced questions about administrative turnover in recent years, with its accreditor, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, noting concerns “about the stability of leadership and the retention of leaders throughout the university” in a report issued last year.